“The Forest Way 2016-2017 Season Review”
My last post took us up to November 2016, we were in 11th position in the Premier League and had a difficult month ahead of us after a topsy turvy first 4 months to the season Six months on and I am pleased to say we finished 5th in the table and won the FA Cup.
We prepared for a difficult month as we searched desperately for a decent run of form, I was for the first time at a crossroads which had me puzzled to what our best tactic was after our early season troubles. We started the month with a trip to Old Trafford were a Christensen goal was little consolation in a 3-1 defeat. Next up Everton at home and a 1-0 win thanks to Britt Assombalonga. Back on the bus and a trip to the Emirates and another 3-1 defeat against hosts Arsenal with only Zach Clough breaching the Gunners goal. OK let’s not panic we had 3 games left in the month against 3 club’s who were all below us in the table. The first of the 3 Newcastle Utd visited Nottingham and came away with a 1-1 draw, again Clough getting on the score sheet. Nearly Christmas but no gifts from West Ham United as we suffer a 1-0 defeat to the bottom club. The defeat to West Ham got me wondering how long before Fawaz was knocking my door down with my P45. Sod it I decided to throw caution to the wind for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday by bringing Oliveira back to play alongside Britt Assombalonga and it paid dividend with both Oliveira and Assombalonga getting a brace along with a rare Craig Dawson goal in a much needed 5-0 win.
First up Chelsea at the City Ground and a Nélson Oliveira brace gives us a well deserved 2-0 win, a cracking performance from the side with us playing a 4-1-4-1 formation. We followed up with 2 more wins at home the first a 2-1 win against Stoke City in the FA Cup 3rd round with goals from Oliveira and Paterson before a 4-0 hammering of Aston Villa thanks to Assombalonga 2, Muto and Gardner. That’s 4 wins on the bounce and for the first time this season we look like we are going in the right direction. Two away draws follow 0-0 at 2nd place Crystal Palace and a 2-2 draw at Watford, Assombalonga with a double. We rounded the month off with Zach Clough giving us a 4th round FA Cup win at Leyton Orient. That’s 7 games undefeated and at last the lads look up for it. The transfer window closes and I decided not to spend a penny of our £71m budget on anyone as I give the squad a chance to turn our season around.
We opened the month up with two tricky fixtures a 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester City was followed by a 5-1 thrashing at Anfield, a result that turned our season. What happened at Anfield made me realise our vulnerability after watching and analysing the game the penny dropped. Two or three small tweaks in our player roles things started to click. We beat Tottenham 3-0 at home with goals from Oliveira, Byram and Christensen. With our new found belief we went to Stamford Bridge for our FA Cup 5th round tie and beat a strong Chelsea side 2-0 Muto and Osborn putting us through to the 6th round. Last game of the month we fought out a 2-2 draw at Sunderland with goals in each half by Oliveira and Paterson.
Another draw 0-0 on the road this time in Wales against Swansea started our March fixtures before an FA Cup 6th round visit to the City Ground by Liverpool the side who inflicted our heaviest defeat under my leadership but this time we got it right and an early strike from Assombalonga was enough to give us a 1-0 win to set up a FA Cup Semi Final against Tottenham. An East Midlands clash against Leicester City ended in a 0-0 draw at the City Ground before a 2-0 win at Ewood Park against a struggling Blackburn Rovers goals from Mendes and Paterson our two wide men gave us all 3 points and a 4th consecutive clean sheet to end the month.
This month would turn out to be the best month of any I have had at the club we were now playing a fluid system that had seen us go another 6 games without conceding taking our tally to 10 games with out shipping a goal. AFC Bournemouth were the first to visit the City Ground this month, Henri Lansbury hit 2 goals to start the month off with a 2-0 win. Two away games at Southampton 2-0 Oliveira and a Fraser Foster own goal and then a goalless draw at Everton set us up for a visit to Nottingham by Manchester United were a Ben Osborn goal gave us a 1-0 win. Next we travelled to Wembley for the FA Cup Semi Final against Tottenham were 2 Nélson Oliveira goals put us through to the Final after a 2-0 win. Spurred on by the result we ended the month with another 2-0 win courtesy of Lansbury and Muto against Arsenal.
So to the last month of the season we had 3 League games and the FA Cup Final to play. Our first game was a trip up North to Newcastle United we won thanks to Britt Assombalonga’s early strike. Back to the City Ground and West Ham United who were fighting to stay in the Premier League. We got another 1-0 win with a first half injury time winner from our great Dane Lasse Vigen Christensen who as settled in to life at the City Ground. We travelled to nearby Sheffield Wednesday knowing a win would guarantee us a place in Europe next season and the boys rose to the task we won again 1-0 via Dani Pinillos and then closed the game out with another clean sheet, our thirteenth consecutive clean sheet in all competitions. We had qualified for the Europa League with a run of superb team performances. No time to celebrate yet though we were back at Wembley for the FA Cup Final against giant killers Bristol City. I said to the lads go and give our fans something to cheer about, this is for them. Bristol City took an early lead against the play despite us missing chance after chance that got me thinking this is going to be their day when suddenly Ryan Mendes scored a screamer to level on 39 minutes. We came out after the break and lay siege to City’s goal and got the breakthrough via Japanese wide man Yoshinori Muto it was to be the goal that won us the FA Cup for the first time since 1959. What a season we now will look to regroup for next season as the ‘Forest Way’ gathers momentum.
Final Premier League Table
FA Cup Winners
We Win FA Cup In My 100th Game In Charge
End Of Season Break
The squad have all gone on a well deserved Holiday after our first season back in the Premier League. I will be back shortly with our Pre Season preview.
2015-2016 Championship Winners
2016-2017 Premier League 5th / FA Cup Winners